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CNN’s Don Lemon has been accused of sexual assault. The only Black man with a primetime news show is now speaking out and he is denying the accusations.

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A spokesperson for CNN told Deadline, “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon,” the outlet added. “Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”

Deadline has also reported sources close to Lemon say “there was an attempt in the past two weeks to shake down Lemon for a $1.5 million payoff to stop a lawsuit being filed. Clearly no money was paid by the UTA-repped CNN host to Hice or his side, which is likely why this suit has come out now.”

A CNN spokesperson also told USA TODAY that, “Don categorically denies these claims.”

The accuser is Dustin Hice  and he filed a complaint on August 11 saying he was assaulted by Lemon at a Sag Harbor, New York bar last summer. “Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers into [Hice’s] moustache under [Hice’s] nose,” the filing for “emotional pain and suffering” claims. Lemon is then accused of asking about Hice’s sexuality as the TV host “continued to shove his fingers” at the plaintiff “with aggression and hostility.”

The lawsuit also says the 53-year-old is not a “staunch advocate for the ‘Me Too'” and  “When the cameras are turned off … Mr. Lemon’s actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to convey.”

Hice’s social media has basically disappeared. Deadline reports he appears to have a now-retired Instagram account that “quoted ‘#Trump’ in calling CNN ‘the home of the fake news’ — while he was touring CNN HQ in Atlanta.”


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